DETROIT - Viral videos, they can make us smile, dance or in the case of a skydiving grandmother, hold our breath. But could they also help us heal?
A new study by the University of Michigan suggests that YouTube videos are actually helping patients treat a difficult disorder.
Researchers found videos on something called "The Epley Maneuver," which helps people suffering from a particular type of vertigo.
"The one that is the most popular is one that was published by the American Academy of Neurology, and so it is definitely reputable and definitely well-done and I did view it myself," says Dr. Erika Woodson of the Cleveland Clinic Head & Neck Institute. "It's quick and to the point and shows you how to do it."
The Epley maneuver is considered a simple and effective treatment, but is often underused.
Experts still caution the videos should not replace a visit to the doctor first.
"For people who like to dabble in self-diagnosis they may make their condition worse or they may be missing something that does need or require more medical evaluations," says Woodson. "These videos cannot substitute care from a medical practitioner, but I think as an adjunct for a clinician's practice, or for people who already know what the problem is, then these are going to be useful tools."
Doctors say whatever your health concern may be, the key is to find videos that are created by a reputable source and use them to complement your doctor's care, not replace it.